Luther (BBC-1 2010-2013, Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson)

Idris Elba as Luther

Crime drama series Luther focuses on Detective Chief Inspector John Luther whose highly intelligent stance puts him at odds with the world and generally means he gets just that little bit too personally involved. Columbo style we know the identity of the killer from the start so that the drama is more about how Luther tracks down the murderer than on the whodunnit aspect.

When the series opens Luther has just returned to work following leave after tracking down notorious serial killer Henry Masden and is still finding his way somewhat. In best maverick cop style he has a troubled home life having split from his wife Zoe but desperate to get her back, she however has a new man in her life and is keen for Luther to move on.

Series creator Neil Cross cut his teeth working on Spooks so knows the benefit of tension and pacing, Idris Elba is a terrific actor long overdue some serious public acclaim and Luther was just the series to do it. In fact the main cast is extremely good and features the likes of Paul McGann, Steven Mackintosh, Matthew Marsh and Indira Varma but the real highlight is the fab Ruth Wilson as the psychotic Alice Morgan who tangles with Luther in the first episode and becomes something of a stalker/alter ego for the troubled cop. By the end of the first season Luther’s world has completely fallen apart and in the final episode finds himself on the run framed for murder!

Alice and Luther

Ruth Wilson as Alice with Idris

Season two saw Luther having to cope with the aftermath of the murder of his wife and tangling with a serial killer and help save a young teenage girl whose life is in freefall. Alice, who was in an institution throughout the series, still holds major influence over Luther.

Season three consisted of two two-part stories in the first a vicious serial killer who targets young women in their homes and in the second one of the people closest to Luther is left dead and in a twist Luther is himself chief suspect and it is Alice who holds the key to Luther solving the case.

Despite saying that they wouldn’t be making any more episodes there was a surprise and brilliant two part return in December 2015. Despite this being the first season that Alice didn’t make an appearance the feeling of her presence was pretty much a constant feeling.

Warren Brown in Luther

Warren Brown as Justin Ripley alongside his boss John Luther. 

After the second season there was a lot of talk about Alice getting her own spin-off. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and is highly unlikely to with Ruth Wilson’s career moving ever upwards. Meanwhile a planned US version is currently on hold. It is in production at Fox but they have so far been unable to come up with a strong enough actor to take on the lead role. Meanwhile Russian TV’s Channel One have their own version set to air in Autumn 2016. Konstantin Lavronenko stars as Klim rather than Luther. Funnily enough a Russian version feels like the perfect fit for the series.

production details
UK / BBC-1 / 14×60 minute episode / Broadcast Tuesday 4 May 2010 – 22 December 2015

Creator: Neil Cross / Script Editor: Claire Bennett / Costumes: James Keast / Theme Music: Massive Attack / Music: Paul Englishby / Titles: Momoco / Police Advisor: Simon Morgan / Producer: Kate Swinden

IDRIS ELBA as D.C.I. John Luther
INDIRA VARMA as Zoe Luther
PAUL McGANN as Mark North
RUTH WILSON as Alice Morgan
SASKIA REEVES as D.S.U. Rose Teller
WARREN BROWN as D.S. Justin Ripley
MATTHEW MARSH as D.C.S.U. Russell Cornish

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